Saturday, April 7, 2012

Seeing El Sistema in Venezuela: The Music!

I realize as I'm re-reading my blog posts that there's something implied but glaringly missing: the extraordinary concerts and rehearsals we watched and participated in. And what concerts! As a French horn player, the chance to play alongside passionate, curious, and musical young musicians for me was both an honor and tremendous fun. And because El Sistema is all about that go-for-it attitude, I also enjoyed jumping into new waters and singing in choir rehearsals with my Fellows Aisha, Alysia, and Stephanie. Here, a few musical highlights from the trip:
  • Attending a recording of Gustavo Dudamel conducting the Simón Bolívar Orchestra in Beethoven's 3rd Symphony.
  • In Barquisimeto, Ben, Avi, Julie, Stephanie, and I played a concert with the Youth Orchestra of Barquisimeto. This is one of the rehearsals of Prokoviev's 5th Symphony, and it was wickedly exciting to play with several kids who have worked together for years.

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  • Look out, Broadway. In Valle de la Pascua, I played hookie from the orchestra rehearsal one day to experience a choir session that Aisha and Alysia were leading of "New York." I joined the altos. When the other girls found out I live in New York, they literally got up to move their chairs closer to me, then asked for my autograph. (Helllooo stardom!) Have I sung in choir before? No. Was this way more fun (and absolutely hilarious) than most orchestra rehearsals I've played? You bet...
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  • Up in Coro, we were invited to hear a concert for orchestra and four soloist singers. Each soloist was a couple years younger than the previous. So by the time this little girl (about 9 years old) came on the stage, we just about fell over when she opened her mouth to sing. The next Miss Venezuela, anyone?

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  • Also in Coro, some of the Fellows wandered over to a rehearsal for the all Ave Maria program. Stephanie, Ben, Aisha, and I joined the chorus, while Alysia sang the solo.

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(For the dress rehearsal of this piece with the White Hands choir, visit the El Sistema and Special Needs blog and scroll down to the end.)

  • During our final week, in Caracas, we had a chance to watch Southbank Centre's Marshall Marcus rehearse members of The Teresa Carreño Youth Orchestra in a Baroque program (unfortunately I didn't get footage of this, but believe me, it was very cool.) And another gem: hearing a beautiful performance of Mozart's Requiem, with the Symphonic Youth Choir Simón Bolívar and the Caracas Youth Symphony, led by Robert Göstl.

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